Kalady is the birth place of Adi Sankaracharya the great Indian philosopher who lived in the 8th century. Kalady situated majestically on the banks of Periyar river (near Cochin City), a popular Hindu religious destination in Kerala. Sri Sankaracharya was born here as the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba, a Kerala Brahmin couple. At his birth, astrologers had predicted among other things, that he would become a 'sarvajana' or an all-knowing sage. This extraordinarily intelligent boy mastered the Vedas and completed his studies when he was merely 16 years of age. Adi Sankaracharya evolved the philosophy of Advaita, one of the two principals of the Vedantic school asserting the sole existence of Brahma. His commentaries on the Upanishads, Brahmasutra and the Bhagavad Gita hold relevance even today. At the age of 32, Adi Sankara attained 'mahasamadhi'.

Among the many miraculous happenings associated with his life is one when he is believed to have diverted the course of the river Poorna , then flowing one and a half kilometers away from the house, for his aged mother who could have her daily bath in the river without walking a long way. Even today one can see the river has taken an uncharacteristic turn towards the Sringeri Math shrine, believed to be the site of Sankara.

At Kalady, there are two shrines dedicated to the memory of the Adi Sankaracharya. While one shrine is dedicated to him as Dakshinamoorthi, the other shrine is dedicated to Goddess Sharada and is looked after by the Sringeri Mutt. The Sringeri Mutt is believed to be situated exactly at the same place where Adi Shankaracharya house once stood. To the left of the entrance of the temple is a black pole, which was meant to mark the exact spot where Adi Sankaracharya was born.